Matthew Kaplan Photography

Invert Project Events - Chicago - 11/16/22

St. Francis De Sales High School, on the southeast side, hosted a community open house Wednesday evening for promoters of the Invert project, which aspires to carve out a massive underground development along the Calumet River near Avenue O and 116th street.

Invert looks to tunnel hundreds of feet into limestone bedrock beneath the area, and transform the current brownfield on a former steel mill site into a subterranean industrial and office park. Quoting from their website, this would create, "6 million square feet of opportunity filled with new businesses that will flourish and grow. The finished space will feature two sprawling levels, with 40-foot ceiling clearances and access to multiple modes of transportation."

Advocates for Invert patiently explained to community members, many skeptical of such an expensive and expansive undertaking, the benefits the project would bring to the neighborhood, as well as the careful measures Invert promises to employ to minimize negative environmental impacts from the decade long construction of the tunnels.

Invert is connected to a local concrete and bulk materials company, Ozinga Bros. Inc.

Across Ewing Avenue from the school, representatives of the Southeast Environmental Task Force, Alliance for the Southeast, and Jeffrey Manor Community Council held a press conference in opposition to the Invert tunneling, which they suspect is primarily a scheme by Ozinga to mine the limestone, a raw material in concrete manufacturing and other industrial processes.

According to Amalia NietoGomez from ASE "the most disturbing thing about this proposal is they are making it sound so good by offering local jobs, supporting local entrepreneurship, a community center and green manufacturing. It's preying on the hopes and dreams for our community. The things that we have always asked for, they are promising. But none of these promises are in writing. None of this is guaranteed at all, but the mining is. That's what they want to do."

Representatives of Invert assert that disposal of the limestone removed to create the tunnels is not part of their financial model of the project.

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